LETTER FROM THE EDITORS.
Our latest issue focuses on the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), which is one the most pressing issues facing our generation because the next phase of global economic transformation is happening now. The integration of automated processes and digital innovation with physical systems of production promises to fundamentally change how humans all over the world live their lives. Indeed, its impacts are already being felt in industries as varied as agriculture, manufacturing, and the services sector. But the relevance of 4IR to international affairs is not only in how it will change the nature of work. It is also in the social, political, and economic consequences 4IR engenders.
These changes and their consequences provide the touchstones for this issue's contributors. Professor Klaus Schwab of the World Economic Forum (WEF) provides a foreword to the issue, outlining his vision of what the Fourth Industrial Revolution entails, three years after introducing the term itself into popular use. Professor Schwab's foreword is accompanied by a primer on 4IR by WEF's Thomas Philbeck and Nicholas Davis. Together, these high-level perspectives ground our understanding of the Fourth Industrial Revolution by laying out theoretical parameters our contributors explore.
From the International Labor Organization, Director-General Guy Ryder writes about the challenges of valuing work as the labor market changes, which is followed by an examination of the gig economy by Alex De Ruyter, director of the Center for Brexit Studies at Birmingham City University, Martyn Brown, and John Burgess. An interview with Stefa-no Scarpetta of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development focuses on how labor resilience might be improved in the face of the changing nature of work, and Federica Saliola and Simeon Djankov from the World Bank Group expand on the latest World Development Report and provide robust analysis of the effect of technology on work and consider how governments could respond.
Our contributors also focus not just on the broad social impacts of 4IR, but also its nuances. Elizabeth Pollitzer, co-founder of Portia, lays out four scenarios for the digital future, using territorial considerations (global versus local) and degrees of societal involvement (inclusive versus exclusive). Jill Rubery, of University of Manchester, provides a gender-based perspective on the future of work and how women's status within the labor market is likely to change. Shuo-Yan Chou, director of the Center for Internet of Things Innovation at National Taiwan University of Science and Technology, writes on how humans can and should remain an integral component of the Internet of Things.
Allan Dafoe at the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University helps us make sense of how human governance regimes might intersect with the increased use of artificial intelligence brought on by 4IR. We also have an industry perspective, from Francesca Rossi of IBM Research, on how trust and explainability will influence the extent to which users and companies buy in to the utility of artificial intelligence. Our SIPA Student Essay winner, Schoni Song, contributes a broad essay on the implications of AI to society, the economy, and public policy going forward.
Some elements of 4IR have particular relevance to distinct regions. Wim Naude of Maastricht University critically examines the changing manufacturing industry on the African continent and emerging narratives about the industry and the continent, while Yovanna Pineda from the University of Central Florida reviews the Argentine agricultural industry and its implications for decent work. In an interview, Swedish Minister for Employment and Integration Ylva Johansson, explores the ways in which wealthy countries such as Sweden are already grappling with the implications of 4IR and what lessons they may offer to developing states.
We conclude with reviews of Tim May and Beth Perry's Cities and the Knowledge Economy: Promise, Politics and Possibilities, a study of how urban universities stand to contribute to the future knowledge economy, by Steven Cohen at SIPA, and of Professor Schwab's latest book, Shaping the Fourth Industrial Revolution, reviewed by Betty Sue Flowers of the University of Texas at Austin.
Since Professor Schwab wrote on the Fourth Industrial Revolution in 2016, the concept has inspired both critiques and attempts to elaborate on its meaning. Readers will find samples of both within this issue, and although the articles are diverse in their proposals and outlook, a unifying thread of timely urgency runs through them. One thing that all of our contributors agree on is that the 4IR cannot be ignored. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is a topic of essential global concern, and with this issue, the Journal of International Affairs is proud once again to fulfill its mandate by providing a space to explore 4IR's varied facets and to offer innovative solutions to its biggest challenges.